ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem came out of the May 2, 2017 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] ng_moonmoth, [personal profile] siliconshaman, [personal profile] technoshaman, [personal profile] librarygeek. It also fills the "injury" square in my 4-3-17 card for the [community profile] origfic_bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] ng_moonmoth. It belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics.


"All These Things Woven into Something"


The Iron Horses loved a good powwow.

It was a chance to dress up and dance,
chat with relatives from all over the plains,
and stuff themselves on frybread slathered
with ground bison and foraged greens.

Joseph Elkdog led the Iron Horses in,
his lieutenants clustered around him.

Ben Big Rock went right to the women,
who welcomed him for his fine skill in
gathering and cooking historic foods.

At the arena, Kyle High Wolf peeled off
to get his number for Men's Traditional Dance.
Ron Farlow went along with him, intent on
begging for a lesson from the Drum.

That left Mick Yellowtail, who eyed
the baskets of flint and agate with
undisguised longing, but stuck
tight to his leader's heels.

"I'm hungry," Mick announced,
and Joseph agreed, "Me too."

They went looking for frybread,
but got sidetracked at a campfire
selling Three Sisters Soup and
Thunderbird Cornbread.

Not long after that, they found
a granny making frybread
topped with mulberries.

The men were still licking
their fingers when they came
to a row of campers and saw
Joseph's sister She Walks in Mist
telling stories to a gaggle of children
outside her horse-painted trailer.

She was comparing the legends
from Lakota and Blackfeet tradition
with bits of ecology from college.

She Walks in Mist didn't smile
when she saw them, but did say,
"Bring some snacks and then
come join our story circle."

So they went to get a whole pot
of Three Sisters for everyone
to share and then sat down.

Everything was fine
until Warshirt picked a fight
with Blazing Grass and sent
the children scrambling for cover.

Joseph called on his Horse totem
to lend him a little extra speed,
while Mick ran to fetch the others.

By the time Joseph had pried
Warshirt off of Blazing Grass --
and gotten socked in the mouth
for his trouble -- Kyle had arrived
to take charge of Warshirt and there
was no getting at Blazing Grass
past a wall of pissed-off Ben.

"Traditional doesn't mean
dickheaded," Kyle snapped
as his argument with Warshirt
rose above its infuriated hiss.

"I don't have to step aside for that --
that halfbreed sellout," Warshirt said,
waving a hand at Blazing Grass.

The young medic prodded gingerly
at his left eye, already swelling shut.
His pink lips thinned at the insult,
but he said nothing in return.

Joseph felt the acid stirring in
his own stomach, but held back.

How many times had people
mocked him for living on the fringes,
for riding a motorbike better than a horse
even though it was his own totem?

How many times had the Iron Horses
felt torn between two worlds,
never fitting into either?

They'd all heard halfbreed
and sellout often enough
to feel the fighting words,
but the fight was over
and better left so.

"The mutt won't even stand up
for himself," Warshirt taunted.

"Then I suppose you
must not think much of
my medicine either,"
said a new voice.

Everyone made way for
Smoking Breath, the shaman
of the Omaha Reservation, who
was mostly Omaha and Winnebago
with a little Cheyenne thrown in.

"That -- that's not what I meant,"
Warshirt stammered, wincing.

He'd been trying for years
to convince Smoking Breath
to teach him, but so far
the shaman declined.

Likely this was why.

Just then, an old woman
hobbled into the fray and
began smacking him with
a wooden spoon, his hands
and the seat of his breeches
that the warshirt did not cover.

Warshirt cringed, raising
his muscular arms in attempt
to shield his head from her.
"Sorry, grandmother, sorry."

She wasn't actually
the mother of his mother,
Joseph thought, but rather
some sort of aunt. It didn't
matter, though -- Warshirt
wouldn't dare talk back to her.

"How are you?" Joseph said,
turning to Blazing Grass who
sat on the dusty ground.

"I'll live," the medic said,
but his clothes were a mess
and his face looked even worse.

"He's got a mouth on him,"
Joseph said, frowning.

"They think it's about blood, but
it's not," said Blazing Grass as
he meticulously buttoned his collar.
"It's not about my genes or my shirt or
whether I heal people at a powwow
or in a hospital or both. It's about
heart, about spirit, doing things
in my own way because this is
the medicine that was given to me."

"I understand," Joseph said,
acutely conscious of his mishmash
of tribal and commercial clothes.
"It's hard to balance two worlds,
two whole ways of thinking ..."

"Not everyone understands,"
Blazing Grass said. "My people
have walked behind other cultures
picking up things their parents discarded --
moral traditions, sacred things, songs,
everything ... it's a collection."

"It shows where we've come from,"
Joseph said. "That's a good thing."

"When you look at what we have
as mixed-blood people, then you see
all these things woven into something that
became a new nation," said Blazing Grass.

"That doesn't make it easier to handle
being pulled in different directions,
though," Joseph pointed out.

Blazing Grass shrugged carefully,
testing his shoulders. "A shaman
walks between spaces, between
the light and the dark," he said.

"But what about a shaman who walks
between the light of the 'mainstream' world,
and the shadow society of the dispossessed,
the poor and the homeless?" asked a voice.

She Walks in Mist stepped out of her camper
with a dripping bandana in hand. "Here,"
she said as she knelt by Blazing Grass.
"I brought you some ice for your face."

Joseph stepped between them and
Warshirt, because the warrior had made
drunken advances on her once and was
sure to object over Blazing Grass getting
attention from a woman he wanted.

Warshirt opened his mouth to protest,
but his granny got there first.

"Lewd little boy!" she scolded,
smacking him with her spoon.
"Get away from there!"

She chased him through
the crowd, which parted
to make way for them.

"Well, that was unpleasant,"
Smoking Breath said, unrolling
a buffalo hide that he'd gotten
from somewhere. "Shall we all
sit down for a story instead?"

The children instantly reappeared
from wherever they'd scattered to,
chattering happily as they piled
around the older man's feet.

Joseph looked over his shoulder,
noticing the powwow was still
milling like a kicked-over anthill.

So he sat between the children
and the lingering crowd, his men
falling into place alongside him.

Nobody was going to wade through
a biker gang to make more trouble.

Then the old woman came back
with a big platter of frybread and
a pot full of mixed berries for it.

"Thank you, grandmother,"
said Ben, who was the closest.
"I'll pass these around, and
then bring your dishes back."

"Don't wash them," she said.
"I have someone in mind for that."

So much for Warshirt's plan
to dance the moccasins off Kyle.

"Yes, grandmother," said Ben
as he began serving the frybread,
making sure everyone got a share.

One of the little girls, Winter Cricket,
promptly handed hers to Blazing Grass,
saying, "You got hurt. You should eat extra."

"Thank you," said Blazing Grass.

"Ah, so generous," Smoking Breath said
with a smile. "Perhaps we will talk about
that virtue in tomorrow's story circle. Today,
we are remembering respect." He pointed
to the buffalo hide. "See, these pictures
show our ancestors known for this virtue ..."

Joseph looked around at the people
gathered together, mostly a mix of Omaha
and Winnebago but with Ponca, Lakota,
Cheyenne, Blackfeet, and others as well.

The virtues of tribal life, like the story hides,
varied somewhat from one nation to the next,
yet they shared a common cache of values,
all these things woven into something

as precious and enduring as air.

* * *

Notes:

Joseph Elkdog -- He has long straight black hair, black eyes, and light copper skin. He stands 6' tall, with a sturdy frame and a long oblong face. He belongs to the Blackfeet tribe, and is the older half-brother of She Walks in Mist. Because Joseph was born when their mother was fairly young, she sent him to live with his father, and he grew up mostly in urban areas. He has learned more about Blackfeet culture over time. She Walks in Mist, born later, was raised on the reservation by their mother. That makes their relationship a little challenging, but they love each other dearly.
Joseph is the leader of a mostly Native American motorcycle gang, the Iron Horses. That is, all of them were born somewhere in North America, and a majority are wholly or partly tribal in heritage. This cultural medley means that the Iron Horses never fit in perfectly in the native or the mainstream society. They are quasi-outlaw heroes, some rougher than others; they do things like hosting giveaways and protecting abuse survivors (sometimes fatally for the abuser). Joseph leads his people into battle when necessary, and is a powerful fighter.
Origin: The longstanding dispute between tribal and biker cultures over Bear Butte and the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally reached an odd crossroads when a young "city Indian" rode his bike up the mountain ... and then safely back down again, bike perfectly intact, in possession of a vision and rather more sense than he went up with. He began studying his Blackfeet heritage and gathering members to form a motorcycle gang.
Uniform: Brown leathers with the gang patch. The center of the patch shows a motorcycle/horse hybrid. The top rocker says Iron Horses. The bottom rocker names the home reservation for that band of the gang, although most bands have a mix of members from different places, not all of them from any reservation. The patches are made with traditional Blackfeet quillwork, which along with the leathers often requires teamwork from several members; other decorations on the leathers may reflect the wearer's own tribe if not Blackfeet. Weather permitting, men who have done the Sun Dance go shirtless under their vests to display their scars. Members typically wear their hair loose or in long braids. Each bike has a medicine bag attached between the handlebars so the spirits can recognize it.
Qualities: Master (+6) Biker, Expert (+4) Leader, Good (+2) Blackfeet Culture, Good (+2) Humility, Good (+2) Mechanic
Poor (-2) Torn Between Two Worlds
Powers: Expert (+4) Horse Totem, Average (0) Nature-sense
Good (+2) Motorcycle: Expert (+4) Magical Protection, Good (+2) Elusive, Good (+2) Fast
Average (0) Minions: The Iron Horses have 7 named lieutenants and dozens of additional members. Lieutenants have qualities of Expert (+4) Biker and another Good; plus powers of a Good (+2) Totem and another Average (0) superpower. Each Iron Horse has an Average (0) Motorcycle with Good (+2) Magical protection and two other Good qualities. They all share the same weakness of Poor (-2) Torn Between Two Worlds.
Motivation: Protect Turtle Island and promote unity among her people.

Elki (Ben Big Rock) -- He has fair skin, brown eyes, and long shaggy hair of dark brown. Because his eyes are light-sensitive, he usually wears sunglasses. He has a thick beard and moustache, along with copious body hair. He is big and muscular, standing 6'7" tall. He has a long dimpled scar across his butt from a prenatal injury. His heritage includes Miwok, Spanish, and Norse. He speaks English, Miwok, and some Spanish. He enjoys gathering and cooking traditional foods.
Ben belongs to a mostly Native American motorcycle gang, the Iron Horses. That is, all of them were born somewhere in North America, and a majority are wholly or partly tribal in heritage. This cultural medley means that the Iron Horses never fit in perfectly in the native or the mainstream society. They are quasi-outlaw heroes, some rougher than others; they do things like hosting giveaways and protecting abuse survivors (sometimes fatally for the abuser). Ben is their road medic and a heavy hitter.
Origin: Ben's mother had a bad boyfriend. They went camping while she was pregnant with Ben. Because the boyfriend was careless with food storage -- despite repeated warnings from his girlfriend -- a bear came into their camp. Ben's mother was clawed across the belly, and her boyfriend was torn to pieces and scattered all over everywhere. A shaman predicted that the baby would have bear medicine, but Ben's actual superpowers have been patchy in development.
Uniform: When not riding, Ben often lounges around in jeans and a t-shirt. When riding, he wears brown leathers with the gang patch. The center of the patch shows a motorcycle/horse hybrid. The top rocker says Iron Horses. The bottom rocker names the home reservation for that band of the gang, although most bands have a mix of members from different places, not all of them from any reservation. The patches are made with traditional Blackfeet quillwork, which along with the leathers often requires teamwork from several members; other decorations on the leathers may reflect the wearer's own tribe if not Blackfeet. Weather permitting, men who have done the Sun Dance go shirtless under their vests to display their scars. Members typically wear their hair loose or in long braids. Each bike has a medicine bag attached between the handlebars so the spirits can recognize it.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Big and Tall, Expert (+4) Biker, Good (+2) Kinesthetic Intelligence, Good (+2) Road Medic, Good (+2) Traditional Foods
Poor (-2) Torn Between Two Worlds
Powers: Good (+2) Bear Totem, Average (0) Healing Sense
Average (0) Motorcycle with Good (+2) Cargo Capacity, Good (+2) Handling, and Good (+2) Magical Protection
Motivation: To follow Joseph Elkdog.

Kyle High Wolf -- He has tawny skin, hazel-brown eyes, and light brown hair worn long. He is lean and wiry, standing 6'2" tall. His heritage includes Cheyenne, Japanese, and French. Kyle has a dominant personality, but respects Joseph Elkdog as overall leader of the Iron Horses. This makes Kyle an excellent lieutenant, and he enjoys leading smaller groups on different missions. His hunting skill brings a considerable amount of food to his people, and he shares it generously. He is also an accomplished dancer, preferring traditional to more modern styles.
Kyle belongs to a mostly Native American motorcycle gang, the Iron Horses. That is, all of them were born somewhere in North America, and a majority are wholly or partly tribal in heritage. This cultural medley means that the Iron Horses never fit in perfectly in the native or the mainstream society. They are quasi-outlaw heroes, some rougher than others; they do things like hosting giveaways and protecting abuse survivors (sometimes fatally for the abuser). Kyle is a scout and a fierce fighter.
Origin: Always getting lost as a child, Kyle was difficult for adults to locate, but typically managed to find his own way back. At puberty, he actually turned invisible for the first time. A shaman was called, and determined his Wolf totem.
Uniform: When not riding, Kyle enjoys wearing bright colors, even outrageous garments. He sometimes takes trophies from vanquished enemies, and has worn parts of various supervillain outfits. Several times, Kraken has had to buy back their uniforms at ridiculous prices. When riding, he wears black leathers with the gang patch. The center of the patch shows a motorcycle/horse hybrid. The top rocker says Iron Horses. The bottom rocker names the home reservation for that band of the gang, although most bands have a mix of members from different places, not all of them from any reservation. The patches are made with traditional Blackfeet quillwork, which along with the leathers often requires teamwork from several members; other decorations on the leathers may reflect the wearer's own tribe if not Blackfeet. Weather permitting, men who have done the Sun Dance go shirtless under their vests to display their scars. Members typically wear their hair loose or in long braids. Each bike has a medicine bag attached between the handlebars so the spirits can recognize it.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Biker, Good (+2) Dominant, Good (+2) Hand-to-Hand Combat, Good (+2) Hunter, Good (+2) Men's Traditional Dance
Poor (-2) Torn Between Two Worlds
Powers: Good (+2) Wolf Totem, Average (0) Invisibility
Average (0) Motorcycle with Good (+2) Handling, Good (+2) Magical Protection, and Good (+2) Speed
Motivation: To feed the pack.

Ron Farlow -- He has light copper skin, brown eyes, and long straight black hair. His face is rounded, his form sturdy under a layer of padding. He has a tattoo of several feathers on his left arm. He stands 5'10" tall. His heritage includes Cherokee and Lakota. He speaks English and Lakota. Ron is a descendant of Sitting Bull. His family raises beef cattle and horses, and they also look after a herd of bison. Ron is a promising drummer, although too young to be allowed to perform at powwows yet. He has a good memory and a solid presence.
Ron belongs to a mostly Native American motorcycle gang, the Iron Horses. That is, all of them were born somewhere in North America, and a majority are wholly or partly tribal in heritage. This cultural medley means that the Iron Horses never fit in perfectly in the native or the mainstream society. They are quasi-outlaw heroes, some rougher than others; they do things like hosting giveaways and protecting abuse survivors (sometimes fatally for the abuser). Ron keeps the gang grounded and interprets dreams. He prefers not to fight, but is formidable when he does.
Origin: Ron performed the Sun Dance using buffalo skulls, and gained superpowers.
Uniform: When not riding, Ron tends to wear overalls with a t-shirt or flannel shirt. When riding, he wears brown leathers with the gang patch. The center of the patch shows a motorcycle/horse hybrid. The top rocker says Iron Horses. The bottom rocker names the home reservation for that band of the gang, although most bands have a mix of members from different places, not all of them from any reservation. The patches are made with traditional Blackfeet quillwork, which along with the leathers often requires teamwork from several members; other decorations on the leathers may reflect the wearer's own tribe if not Blackfeet. Weather permitting, men who have done the Sun Dance go shirtless under their vests to display their scars. Members typically wear their hair loose or in long braids. Each bike has a medicine bag attached between the handlebars so the spirits can recognize it.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Biker, Good (+2) Constitution, Good (+2) Drummer, Good (+2) Memory, Good (+2) Solidarity
Poor (-2) Torn Between Two Worlds
Powers: Good (+2) Buffalo Totem, Average (0) Grounding
Average (0) Motorcycle with Good (+2) Cargo Capacity, Good (+2) Gas Mileage, and Good (+2) Magical Protection
Motivation: To make things holy.

Mick Yellowtail -- He has tinted skin, light brown eyes, and short curly hair of dark brown. He is lean and quick. He stands 5'11" tall. His heritage includes Crow and British. Having grown up with almost nothing, Mick frequently stole to survive, and has learned how to stretch resources as far as possible. He learned flint knapping so that he could make his own tools and weapons at need. Cunning and quick, he's a valuable member of the Iron Horses. He gets in and out of trouble all the time, does things backwards -- but won't commit to formal training with the sacred clowns -- and generally drives Joseph Elkdog crazy. Tricksters are like that. Joseph considers Mick an asset anyhow.
Mick belongs to a mostly Native American motorcycle gang, the Iron Horses. That is, all of them were born somewhere in North America, and a majority are wholly or partly tribal in heritage. This cultural medley means that the Iron Horses never fit in perfectly in the native or the mainstream society. They are quasi-outlaw heroes, some rougher than others; they do things like hosting giveaways and protecting abuse survivors (sometimes fatally for the abuser). Mick is a scout and a trickster. He tends to hang around the edges of a fight, assisting his gangmates or harrying the enemy. He's deft with a knife.
Origin: As a wild teenager, Mick attempted to rob a shaman's camper. He wound up with a handful of holy things that he didn't know how to use, but they sure knew how to use him. Mick was left holding the bag while Coyote laughed his ass off. Things haven't gotten much saner since.
Uniform: When not riding, Mick likes jeans and a buttoned shirt, often white. When riding, he wears black leathers with the gang patch. The center of the patch shows a motorcycle/horse hybrid. The top rocker says Iron Horses. The bottom rocker names the home reservation for that band of the gang, although most bands have a mix of members from different places, not all of them from any reservation. The patches are made with traditional Blackfeet quillwork, which along with the leathers often requires teamwork from several members; other decorations on the leathers may reflect the wearer's own tribe if not Blackfeet. Weather permitting, men who have done the Sun Dance go shirtless under their vests to display their scars. Members typically wear their hair loose or in long braids. Each bike has a medicine bag attached between the handlebars so the spirits can recognize it.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Biker, Good (+2) Fast, Good (+2) Frugal, Good (+2) Knapper, Good (+2) Thief
Poor (-2) Torn Between Two Worlds
Powers: Good (+2) Coyote Totem, Good (+2) Reality Alteration
Average (0) Motorcycle with Good (+2) Handling, Good (+2) Magical Protection, and Good (+2) Speed
Mick uses a smaller style of saddlebag than most of the other Iron Horses.
Motivation: Whatever pops into his head at the moment.

She Walks in Mist -- She has tinted skin that tans copper, brown eyes, and straight dark brown hair to her waist. She is the half-sister of Joseph Elkdog, sharing the same mother in the Blackfeet tribe in Montana. Her father's heritage is Lakota and Hualapai. She speaks English, Lakota, and Aamsskáápipikani (Southern Piegan Blackfeet, Modern Dialect). She is solemn and not easy to read. Her brother's wild behavior often exasperates her, and he keeps trying to get a rise out of her, but they love each other dearly anyway. When a drunken Warshirt propositioned her at a powwow, she smacked him.
In high school she joined the science club and began serious work on local environmental projects, which won her a scholarship. In college she earned a Master's Degree in Environment, Ecology and Ethology. Afterwards she returned to the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Montana, near Glacier National Park, where she maintains the local ecosystem. Her interests span conversation and sustainable development.
Origin: At puberty, she began dreaming about the natural world. Her maternal grandmother encouraged her to study it more closely, so she did. One day she became lost in the mist, and wished that she could find her way home -- and suddenly, there she was. Gradually she learned to do more than just travel through the elements.
Uniform: Her regalia consists of a red dress decorated with ribbons of black, white, and yellow plus a cape of beaded netting in the same colors. Her moccasins are black with matching red, white, and yellow beadwork. These four colors represent the four directions and elements of the medicine wheel. For everyday wear she likes modern women's fashions, but favors the same four colors in various combinations, along with images of medicine wheels or animals.
Qualities: Master (+6) Existential Intelligence, Expert (+4) Environment Ecology & Ethology, Good (+2) Constitution, Good (+2) Extended Family, Good (+2) Reserved
2 points
Powers: Expert (+4) Elemental Powers
This metapower includes Travel, Elemental Form, Elemental Elemental Shields, Elemental Blast, Control Elements, and Control Animals.
Motivation: Mitakuye oyasin.

The exterior of her camper is painted red and yellow, decorated with a herd of horses in red, orange, brown, blue, and green. The back of the camper holds a chair, a table, and a bed. The front has a sink. To the left, a curtain hides a composting toilet. To the right, a counter holds space for kitchenette appliances such as a hotplate or toaster oven. The tiny fridge is tucked underneath.

Blazing Grass (Meyer Ayze) -- He has fair skin that tans copper, brown eyes, and short wavy black hair with a short beard and mustache. He wears glasses. His heritage includes Omaha, Ponca, Navajo, British, and French. He speaks English, Omaha-Ponca, and Navajo. As a hobby, he describes pop culture events and artifacts in a heritage language, which has made him a popular guest speaker at language nests around Turtle Island. He enjoys arts and crafts with super-saturated colors and contemporary materials such as fluorescent dyes, synthetic fibers, polymer clay, and acrylic paint. He can achieve mystical effects with those synthetic materials similar to a technomage with electronics or a shaman with natural materials. He is very much a modern Indian, and his regalia reflects that. He actually does a great job of blending past and present influences, but he still gets a lot of flak from people who think he's "not Indian enough." His nemesis is Warshirt, who prefers a much more traditional approach.
Origin: When he was a teenager, his little sister got sick, slowly wasting away. One night he dreamed of a mighty prairie fire. He spent the next several weeks making vivid regalia and learning the ceremonial moves. After he performed the Grass Dance for his sister, she got well. When he graduated from high school, his relatives pooled funds and sent him to college for medical training, after which he returned to work at the tribal clinic.
Uniform: On duty at the clinic, a white lab coat over light blue button-up shirt and navy pants. For ceremonies, modern Grass Dance regalia made primarily from satiny fabric with acrylic yarn in neon shades of green, yellow, and orange. The headdress consists of a roach with antenna plumes, a headband using three compact discs for the front and side medallions with the center holes covered by more beadwork, and bead loops along the cheeks. Off duty, he wears outdoorsy men's fashions, often designer jeans with a polo or button-up shirt.
Qualities: Master (+6) Community Values, Expert (+4) Medic, Good (+2) Dexterity, Good (+2) Fastidious, Good (+2) Memory, Good (+2) Contemporary Crafts
Poor (-2) Not Indian Enough
Powers: Good (+2) Healing, Average (0) Luck Blessing, Average (0) Technoshaman
Motivation: To take care of his tribe.

The Grass Dance is a healing dance with complex origins. Its regalia is among the more modern, with brightly colored yarn. It takes a lot of time to make a grass dance outfit. Here is a pattern for the spreader. Blazing Grass wears regalia similar to this and this kind of headdress for the Grass Dance. Watch old footage of Paiute, Shoshone, Washoe, Navajo, and other Indian grass dancers at Stewart Indian School Powwow in 1996.

Blazing Grass spearheaded the project to create a new "Culture Room" for smudging and other indigenous practices at the hospital where he works. This is good for the hospital, because it keeps people out from underfoot and contains potentially irritating materials, just like a treatment room. It is good for people using the room, because it provides privacy and a sacred space which is easier to maintain than trying to manage energy in a regular hospital room. Everybody wins! And it's covered under general rules as a variation of a quiet room, positioned alongside the hospital's chapel. The beige walls are painted with beautiful murals and the room is furnished with native-patterned chairs and benches. A corner table holds smudging supplies and other materials.

Warshirt (Will Big Head) -- He has light copper skin, brown eyes, and slightly wavy dark brown hair to his waist. He is tall and muscular with broad shoulders. His heritage includes Lakota, Blackfeet, and Kiowa. He speaks English and a little Plains Indian Sign. He prefers crafts with traditional techniques and all-natural materials such as leather and porcupine quills. He gets the beadwork from female relatives and sews it in place himself; in return, he helps them with heavier work like carving. He joined the Army straight out of high school and never went to college. He is fixated on the glorious past of his people, and not very good at adapting to modern life. He also leans toward problem drinking.
Shirt Man is a traditional term for a warrior so adept that he went into battle protected only by his shirt, not a shield or any other armor. It works for offensive and defensive tactics. Counting Coup allows him to drain Qualities or Powers when striking an opponent instead of causing physical injury. The advantage over simply damaging his opponent to take them out of the fight is that Warshirt can use that energy to restore lost levels of his own abilities.
Since returning home from the war, he can't seem to stay out of trouble, and keeps picking fights with other tribal soups. His nemesis is Blazing Grass. But he once propositioned She Walks in Mist while drunk, and she smacked him, so now all the Iron Horses dislike him.
Origin: While on tour in Afghanistan, his commanding officer got seriously ventilated in a firefight. Warshirt gave up his own protective gear to shield the casualty, then charged the nest of insurgents wearing nothing but his fatigues and killed all twelve of them. He returned without a scratch on him.
Uniform: On duty, he wears traditional buckskin regalia consisting of a fringed warshirt with horsehair tassels and loom-beaded strips with a diamond pattern, over fringed pants with shell buttons and fringed moccasins that come just above the ankles. He carries a war lance with a bone point and beaded shaft for counting coup. Off duty, he tends toward scruffy hand-me-down clothes.
Qualities: Master (+6) Courage, Expert (+4) Veteran, Good (+2) Strength, Good (+2) Kinesthetic Intelligence, Good (+2) Traditional Crafts
Poor (-2) Stuck in the Past
Powers: Good (+2) Counting Coup, Good (+2) Shirt Man
Limitation: Counting Coup only works when the enemy is not injured. Shirt Man only works in combat, and does not protect against everyday hazards.
Motivation: To maintain traditions.

Smoking Breath (John Fontenelle) -- He has tinted skin, brown eyes, and long wavy hair. Originally black, his hair is now going slate-gray about to his ears, and below that the ends are still black. His heritage is mostly Omaha and Winnebago with a little Cheyenne thrown in. He is the grandfather of Winter Cricket. Smoking Breath is the shaman of the Omaha Reservation in Nebraska. He also travels around much of the Great Plains for powwows and other events. He is widely respected. The Iron Horses look up to him, as does Blazing Grass. Warshirt will more-or-less mind if watched closely.
Origin: As a tween, he went on an autumn hunting trip with some uncles, and got lost. Alone in the woods, he called out for help, and the spirits showed him visions to lead the way home. Another shaman, seeing the boy's breath plume white in the cold air, gave him the new name.
Uniform: At powwows and other important events, he wears buckskin regalia with a large paua shell turtle pendant and other tribal jewelry. Off duty, he often wears jeans with a t-shirt or flannel shirt.
Qualities: Master (+6) Omaha Culture & History, Expert (+4) Intertribal Awareness, Expert (+4) Wisdom, Good (+2) American Politics, Good (+2) Beadwork, Good (+2) Teacher
Poor (-2) Tolerance for Alcohol
Powers: Expert (+4) Shaman
Motivation: To bridge the spirit world and the material world.

Winter Cricket -- She has tinted skin, black eyes, and long straight black hair. Her heritage is mostly Omaha and Winnebago with a little Cheyenne thrown in on her mother's side, and Cherokee on her father's side. She is the granddaughter of Smoking Breath, named for the fact that she was born in late December, yet a chorus of crickets sang at her birth. She loves nature and understands it fluently, especially crickets and other insects. She has a great sense of the seasons. Winter Cricket lives on the Omaha Reservation in Nebraska, where she studies shamanic lore with Smoking Breath. She is gentle and patient -- except that she has no verbal brakes yet. She asks nosy questions and babbles what she sees, even intimate mystical details. She's five, she hasn't grown into discretion yet.
Origin: She was born with her superpowers.
Uniform: Most of the time, she wears children's play clothes. At powwows, she wears tribal clothes. She loves bright, deep colors rather than the pastels that many girls prefer.
Qualities: Good (+2) Generous, Good (+2) Gentle, Good (+2) Naturalistic Intelligence
Poor (-2) No Verbal Brakes Yet
Powers: Average (0) Shaman
Motivation: To learn.

* * *

In The Book of Jessica, Campbell says:
my people have walked behind other cultures picking up things their parents discarded for generations: moral traditions, sacred things, songs, prayers, everything ... a way of tying a scarf, a jig step. When you look at what we have as
mixed-blood people you see all these things woven into something that became
a new nation.
-- Maria Campbell, The Book of Jessica

The Indian tribes of Nebraska include the Cheyenne, Chippewa, Comanche, Delaware, Fox, Iowa, Kansas, Kiowa, Missouri, Omaha, Otoe, Pawnee, and Sauk. See maps of territories and reservations.

A powwow is tribal gathering full of singing, dancing, and drumming. It has a long history.

Native American dance includes many styles and different types of regalia. Men's Traditional Dance customarily uses natural, historic materials such as buckskin and feathers, with less of the brightly colored cloth and yarn used in some other styles. The dancers perform gestures symbolic of hunting or fighting.

Drums play a vital role in tribal life. Customarily they use a large powwow drum played by several older men. The group of drummers is called "the Drum." Some tribes include women and youths. But if you put a bunch of bored Indians within reach of something that can be pounded, someone will flip it over and start drumming. I saw a video of a lacrosse team doing that with a bucket, which sadly I could not relocate for this instance. It was one of the most quintessentially tribal things I've ever seen.

Knapping is a traditional way of making stone tools and weapons such as arrowheads. These videos introduce a knapper's tools, working a core, and making an arrowhead.

The Three Sisters -- corn, squash, and beans -- form the basis of agriculture in several tribes. Compare lesson plans in Wampanoag and public schools. Three Sisters Soup can be made with any kind of fresh, canned, or dried beans; fresh corn kernels, frozen corn, or hominy; and whatever squash is available, usually fresh but occasionally canned. Cherokee beans, Indian corn, Lakota squash, and other heritage varieties are preferred. The powwow version uses black beans, red beans, white hominy, and yellow squash to include the four sacred colors.

Thunderbird Cornbread can be made in a Dutch oven.

Frybread is a favorite powwow food. Learn how to make it.

Wooden spoons come in many styles. Here is an early 1900's Iroquois wooden spoon with chip carving. These are commercial wooden spoons and spatulas. This is a modern rustic spoon. Learn how to carve a wooden spoon.

Wooden stirring paddles or spatulas are similar. These are used to stir things or to handle bread dough. Read about how to carve a pizza paddle.

Legends differ from one tribe to another, but often contain information on how the world works and how to interact with it. Compare Lakota and Blackfeet legends.

Across almost all tribes, elders are respected. This refers primarily to old people, but can also cover younger people who have amassed and shared a significant body of knowledge. Elders have a lot of power in tribal culture. Here are some customary ways of respecting elders.

(The following links cover extremely controversial topics.)
Halfbreed is an obnoxious term for someone of mixed (usually Indian and white, but sometimes different tribes) heritage. Métis, intertribal, and pan-Indian are more civil terms. This is based on the heinous practice of blood quantum, one of the more egregious examples of institutionalized racism; for example, more conservative tribes like Ute may require 5/8 tribal blood. Others like the Cherokee are more flexible. The practice creates extreme contention. Look at this article condemning the disrespect of halfbreeds ... while simultaneously mocking people with a trace of native ancestry. It means people of intertribal or interracial heritage are thought of as less Indian, or just plain less. It often leaves people feeling torn between two worlds, as widely portrayed in Native American literature. Disenrollment and other forms of ostracizing people over their bloodlines have become a major theme in current genocide. Because who benefits when there are fewer Indians? The government and the racists. It is ironic that historically, tribes practiced adoption. Today, it's just another thing to quarrel over. It doesn't matter how tribal your culture, what people often look at is pedigree and paperwork.

The other aspect of identity is cultural. A "city Indian" is one who grows up in urban areas, like Joseph Elkdog did, which is very different from life on a reservation. This also leads to being called "not Indian enough," as mentioned with Blazing Grass. And here's the flipside of the blood quantum: no matter how pure your blood, if you don't look or act the way people expect, they'll say you're not a real Indian.

Terramagne-America does somewhat better, in that many tribes offer two routes of membership: genetic and cultural. This respects the different value of each aspect of cultural identity. Someone who preserves the traditional crafts, music, language, etc. is as important to survival as someone with tribal genes. The end result of all this is that T-America has two ways to qualify in, whereas L-America has two ways to disqualify out. Guess who has more Indians left.

Lakota virtues are often challenging to maintain in mainstream culture. In particular, they value generosity; a rich person is defined not by what they have but by what they give away. Similar values are common across many tribes, the Lakota are just more prone to publicizing theirs.

Plains hide painting is one way of recording history. Here is an example and a lesson plan. These are some symbols used on story hides. Once you have the idea of recording information on hides, you can use it for any topic; in this case, the hide has pictures of respectful events in the lives of historic figures.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-05-21 03:15 pm (UTC)
technoshaman: BMW Motorrad (beemer)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
Okay. Something you gotta understand about biker culture. There's hog drivers (Harley-Davidson owners), and there's everyone else. Now, they *do* associate with one another; the fact that you've got a Hog thrown in with a bunch of Indians and a VMAX works, especially given the varied culture of the gang... but as a matter of aesthetics you'd never put an H-D branded saddlebag on anything but an H-D. Even the tools are different! Harleys use SAE-sized (inches) nuts and bolts; everyone else (including Indian!) uses metrics. (That's in fact the term for a non-Harley rider, a "metric biker".) (I haven't heard this specifically, but from what I *have* heard about all but the newest Hogs, one is 2.2 times more likely to be *riding* one's metric bike than a Harley.. if they're not wrenching on it, they're polishing it. Non-cruiser metric bikers say if the bike ain't *dirty*, you ain't been *riding*... :D )

[edit] oh, I went and looked this up and forgot to contribute: waterproof saddlebags for the VMAX

So the Lakota have a gift economy! COOL. I hadn't heard of that being a thing outside of geekdom... much of hacker respect is based on how much good code you contribute. (Although you can still have a rep as an asshole and put out some damn fine code... but you're not going to get a rep at all unless you contribute code, or at least some kind of ideas...)

One of these days I have to get over to the Duwamish longhouse. I regret not getting there when it was just down the hill... but it's still not *too* far...

(no subject)

Date: 2017-05-22 02:30 am (UTC)
thnidu: my familiar. "Beanie Baby" -type dragon, red with white wings (Default)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
I wanna follow this along!

> Put a mention at the top of your Notes that the Iron Horse characters are in the same picture, described from left to right. At the start I wondered which one was Elkdog. Only when I saw that Elki had no link and was described as 6'7" tall did the penny drop.

> Kyle High Wolf's link is to a motorcycle. Is that his Change? ;-)

• (Warshirt) On duty, he wears traditional buckskin regalia
→ On duty as what? Warrior? Shirt Man?

• (She Walks in Mist) 2 points
> What does that mean? Also, I think this is the first of your character sheets I've seen that includes no "Poor" quality.

• (Winter Cricket) She was born with her superpowers.
> Average (0) Shaman, then. I wondered about that, but then I saw "She loves nature and understands it fluently, especially crickets and other insects. She has a great sense of the seasons." I'm also wondering about that chorus of crickets.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-05-22 06:15 pm (UTC)
redsixwing: Red-winged angel staring at a distant star. (Default)
From: [personal profile] redsixwing
I have the distinct impression Smoking Breath is about to deliver a lesson on Don't Be Him.

I'm really enjoying the Iron Horses.

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